updated 8/21/2012 11:56:56 AM ET 2012-08-21T15:56:56

Guests: Megan McCain, Barbara Boxer; Donna Edwards; Erin McPike, Ed Rendell, Michael Steele, Marcia Fudge


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, POLITICS NATION: Welcome to
"Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead, the Romney-Ryan ticket has some legitimate problems
when it comes to women voters. New offensive comments about rape, from a
GOP congressman, have their records under a microscope. Here`s the
disgusting remarks from GOP senator candidate Todd Akin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANCHOR: If an abortion could be considered in the
case of, say, tubal pregnancy or something like that. What about in the
case of rape? Should it be legal or not?

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI SENATE CANDIDATE: It seems to me, first
o all, from what I understand from doctors, that`s really rare. If it`s a
legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing
down. But, let`s assume that didn`t work or something. You know, I think
there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the
rapist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Legitimate rape? This appalling comment set off a
firestorm of outrage today. Here`s President Obama, waking in at the White
House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The views expressed
were offensive. Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and
qualifying and slicing what types of rape we`re talking about, it doesn`t
make sense to the American people. And certainly doesn`t make sense to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Ever since Akin`s comments, the Romney campaign has been in
chaos, trying to get in front of it. In a statement, they wrote, quote,
"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin`s statement,
and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of
rape."

He told "the National Review," the remarks were, quote, "insulting,
inexcusable, and frankly, wrong" and he had this to say, moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can`t defend what he
said, I can`t defend him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But the other part of that ticket, Mr. Ryan. He`s been
very quiet. And it`s no wonder. Just look at his record. He co-sponsored
a bill that called the no taxpayers funding for abortion act law, already
prohibits public funding for abortions, but there are exceptions for rape
victims. And therefore, this bill limited what can be considered rape.
Saying funds could only be used for, quote, "forcible rape."

Forcible rape would be covered, but others would be excluded. Folks,
this is outrageous. And Congressman Paul Ryan co-sponsored that
legislation with none other than Congressman Akin.

But that`s not all. He also cosponsored a bill that would force a
woman to receive an ultrasound before having an abortion. This is a man
who cast 59 anti-choice votes while in congress. Who has maintained a 100
percent rating from the national right to life committee. He`s even
boasted, quote, "I`m as pro-life as a person gets."

He`s gone so far to the right that he`s co-sponsored a personhood
amendment that would define life as starting at conception. Meaning it
would outlaw abortions, some forms of contraception, even invitro
federalization. It`s extreme but its right in line with his running mate.
And he`s right in line with Romney on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Would you have support of the
constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life
at conception?

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Absolutely, folks. That`s the choice in this election.
That`s your Republican ticket. And President Obama does not agree with
that type of thinking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think the underlying notion that we should be making
decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions, or qualifying
forcible rape versus non-forcible rape. I think those are broader issues,
and that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other
party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Folks, Paul Ryan and Mr. Romney can do everything they can
to get away from congressman Akin, but they can`t run away from their own
records even though they might try.

Joining me now is Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat from California, the
champion for women`s rights.

Senator, thank you for being here tonight.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you for this opportunity.

SHARPTON: Now, I mean, what do you make of these comments from
congressman Akin? I mean, what is -- is there such a thing as illegitimate
rape or legitimate rape or forced rape or not forced rape, I mean, I have
never heard doctors, he said he talked to doctors, I never heard of this
from doctors.

BOXER: Yes, I`d like to meet the doctor that said that to him. I
don`t believe it for a minute.

Look, there`s so much I could say to you, but I have been on your
wonderful show many times, talking about the war against women. And
congressman Akin has been a leader in this war. And Congressman Ryan, as
you point out, has been his very proud partner.

And, you pointed out the, you know, we could talk rhetoric, but the
fact is, what congressman Ryan wanted to do with representative Akin is
redefine rape and say, instead of just saying, as we know, rape is rape, a
woman is raped when sex is forced upon her, against her will. They want to
define that to forcible rape, where I suppose she has to punch him or fight
back, but according to the national women`s law center, if she`s drugged,
it wouldn`t count as forcible rape. If she`s a child below 18 and is
conned into it by some 30 or 40-year-old, a 13-year-old, that wouldn`t be
forcible rape.

This is a sick agenda. That`s what I believe. And I hope women
across this nation and the men who love women, will stand with women and
vote for the Obama-Biden ticket and against this radical ticket.

We also have Paul Ryan, not only joining with Akin n on re-defining
rape, but also the personhood amendment that would put women, doctors in
jail as you said. And also, defending Planned Parenthood that givens
services, health services, not abortion services. Health services to three
million people, 97 percent of what they do is health, three percent is
exercising a woman`s right to choose. So, that`s where we stand here.

SHARPTON: And Ryan with a cosponsor on many of these bills with this
same Akin.

BOXER: Yes, yes, a partner.

SHARPTON: That you have just outlined.

BOXER: Yes.

SHARPTON: Now, the Romney campaign says, Senator Boxer, in a state,
quote, "a Romney-Ryan administration n would not oppose abortion in
instances of rape."

But in addition to Ryan`s record, the "Milwaukee Sentinel" reported
this, while Ryan was running for Congress in 1998, they said, quote, "Ryan
has said he favors only one exception to a ban, to save a woman`s life,"
only one exception. What about rape?

Now, let me give you a sound from Mr. Romney about banning all
abortions during 2007 debate. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a
consensus in this country that we said, we don`t want to have abortion, in
this country at all, period, that would be wonderful. I`d be delighted.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, AC360: Would you find that bill?

ROMNEY: Let me say it. I`d be delighted to sign that bill. But
that`s not where America is today. Where America is, is ready to overturn
Roe V. Wade and return to the states that authority. If the Congress got
there, we had that kind of consensus in the country, terrific.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, Romney said he would sign a bill, this is not my
quoting him, I played him saying it, that would ban all abortions. You
have Ryan, with personhood amendments and other legislation. So, many
ways, Akin is just saying, overtly, what they`ve been saying through
proposed legislation and in the back and forth of a debate, it is their
position.

BOXER: Yes, and Reverend, can I just say thank you for that because
people are acting shocked at this.

Listen, if they had been following what the Republicans have done
across our great nation, introducing bills, 500 of them, some of them
saying, life begins two weeks before conception. So, they can narrow the
time span a woman has a right to choose. This is not that shocking, when
you put it into context.

And, yes, Paul Ryan tried hard to say, let`s not have an exception for
rape, let`s -- you know, we don`t need to have an exception for rape. And
when he couldn`t get that done, he went, partnered with this guy, Akin, and
said, OK, then let`s change the definition of rape.

Imagine such a thing. And forcing a woman into a circumstance where,
I don`t even want to think about the scars, if you have ever had an
interview with a woman. I`ve spoken with many, who have been raped. This
is something that scars them forever.

So, now, we`re saying, if you ever want a chance to end the pregnancy
forced upon you by a criminal rapist, you have to punch him, even if he has
a gun to your head?

Reverend, this is -- this is a moment of truth for America. And for
Mitt Romney to say, it would be wonderful, wonderful to ban abortion, what
is he thinking? I`m old enough to know what it was like when women died in
alleyways and were made infer infertile. What is he thinking? He doesn`t
deserve to be president for a whole list of reasons and this is another
reason.

SHARPTON: Senator Barbara Boxer, thank you, as always, for your time
tonight.

BOXER: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Now, joining me now is MSNBC contributor and author Megan
McCain.

Megan, thank you for being here tonight.

MEGAN MCCAIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, thank you.

SHARPTON: As a Republican, what do you make of Akin`s comments?

MCCAIN: I think his comments are absolutely indefensible. He should
be resign at this very moment. It`s embarrassing. It`s scary, as a woman,
to hear this kind of rhetoric. I would like to say and I don`t believe is
what Paul Ryan and Governor Romney believe and I think he`s an
embarrassment to the party, quite frankly.

SHARPTON: So, you are saying, let me get this right, you are calling
on Akin to resign --

MCCAIN: Yes.

SHARPTON: Meaning, not to run --

MCCAIN: No.

SHARPTON: For senator in Missouri, even though he just won the
primary.

MCCAIN: I`m calling on him to resign immediately. Hopefully before I
leave this stage.

SHARPTON: Wow. Do you think, given that --

MCCAIN: And by the way, my sentiment seasonal alone. The National
Review just called for him to resign as well. Many Republicans across this
nation right now are calling for him to leave.

SHARPTON: He`s saying he`s staying, in fact, a short time ago, Akin
said he wasn`t going anywhere, quote, "I am announcing today that we are
going to stay in."

MCCAIN: Yes, and they he`s selfish and only thinking of himself and
not the greater good of the Republican Party. That`s a selfish act.

SHARPTON: What do you think this does to the perception that many
have that the Republican Party has become kidnapped by the far right? Does
this just make this even more difficult for more moderate Republicans to
try to appeal to the American public that everyone is not going to the deep
end of the far right?

MCCAIN: Yes, exactly. But it`s not just moderate Republicans and
socially moderate Republicans or even pro-choice Republicans. It`s pro-
life Republicans. This is a man that is trying to redefine the definition
of rape, which something that I`ve never heard of. I mean it`s insane by
anybody`s standards. And so, for anyone, this is ridiculous and crazy.
And the fact that it`s taken over the narrative today and really hurt the
discussion in this election right now is just unfortunate.

SHARPTON: What about the link to Paul Ryan? They actually have co-
sponsored some legislation together, personhood amendment, other amendments
that redefines rape and redefines funding. Does that link bother you and
how do you reconcile that, if Akin stays or if he leaves the race?

MCCAIN: Well, I don`t agree with Paul Ryan`s stance. I`m a pro-life
woman, but I don`t agree in chances of incest or rape. I believe that his
choice and what he believes is what many Catholics across America believe,
and that`s great about America, is that if you want to believe what he
says, go ahead. I agree and follow a line more with governor Romney and he
is the one leading the ticket and that`s what is most important to me.

Unfortunately, I`m not a one issue voter. I don`t go into the voting
booth, I`m not strictly, you know, pro-life, pro-choice voter. But I don`t
fall in line with Paul rip Ryan.

SHARPTON: But I think it would bother a lot of people, with the
statement by Akin, and, frankly, some of the legislation that Ryan and Akin
propose is, as you say, you can have your view pro-life or pro-choice. But
to redefine rape, to act as though there is a possibility that rape could
not be legitimate, or could not be forced, I mean, what are we talking
about?

MCCAIN: That`s well outside the mainstream thinking in my opinion.
And I think generationally, it`s dauntingly out of touch from where I
believe I stand and many people of my age group do. I think we`re in
different times right now. I can`t defend that with Paul Ryan because it`s
not personally what I believe. But it`s not what Mitt Romney believes.
That is good enough for me.

SHARPTON: Megan McCain, thank you, as always, for being here tonight.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Todd Akin`s rape comments sending the GOP damage
control machine into def-con 5. Just how bad can it get for Republicans?
We`ll see.

And, blocking the vote in Ohio. A Republican with types to the
governor says we shouldn`t contort the voting process to accommodate
African-Americans? We`re going live to Ohio. All that, plus, blueberry
pie is on the menu in Russia.

Oh, yes. It`s a "Politics Nation" favorite in your summer break
tonight. You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Def-con 5 is what a GOP operative is saying about Todd
Akin`s comments. Panic setting in. Maybe it`s time to rethink this war on
women. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with the fallout from Todd Akin`s shocking rape
comments and the GOP is in panic mode. This headline says it all.

"Todd Akin`s rape remark has the GOP fretting." with one Missouri
operative telling Politico, "for God`s sake, def-con 5, panic for the rest
of the ticket. Major intervention need."

Massachusetts senator Scott Brown was the first Republican to call for
Akin`s resignation today. Then, Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson joined,
tweeting that Akin`s comments were quote, "reprehensible and inexcusable"
and saying he should "step aside for the good of the nation."

But as of this afternoon, Akin showed no signs of backing down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AKIN: The good people of Missouri nominated me and I`m not a quitter.
And my belief is, we`re going to take this thing forward. And, by the
Grace of God, we`re going -- to win this race, and to quote my old friend
John Paul Jones, "I`ve not yet begun to fight."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, Akin is refusing to back down on pressure from his own
side. But we`ve watched him push an anti-woman agenda for the last couple
of years. Where does the war on women go from here?

Joining me now, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Democrat from Maryland,
and Erin McPike, reporter for "Real Clear Politics."

Congresswoman, let me start with you. You`ve worked with Todd Akin.
What do you, as soon who has seen him across the aisle, worked in the
Congress with him, what do you make of his comments?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, first of all, he`s an
ideologue, but more importantly, actions sometimes speak louder than words.
In this case, Todd Akin actually expressed what the Republican agenda has
been and particularly the agenda of my colleague Paul Ryan. There is no
daylight between the way that Paul Ryan feels about a woman`s right to make
choices about her own bold and her own health care, as Todd Akin does.

And so, I don`t really see the daylight there, no matter how much the
Romney-Ryan ticket tries to distance itself. It can`t distance itself from
the fact that Paul Ryan has a record of voting against a woman`s right to
make decisions about her body. As a record of supporting these so-called
personal personhood amendment. Has a record of trying to take back a
woman`s right to get health care in a way she chooses, mammograms and
cervical exams. It`s not an accident we say there`s a war on women. The
reason why is because Todd Akin`s comments clarify the war and the battle
lines are set. And standing shoulder to shoulder with Todd Akin are Mitt
Romney and Paul Ryan.

SHARPTON: Now, congresswoman, you hear that a lot of Republicans are
beginning to come out, asking him to step aside. I mean, if ideologically
many of them have been saying this, what is it that he got caught saying it
in a very intemperate manner, or do you think there`s a debate or second
thinking going on in the party on some of these hard line positions that
they`ve taken and even proposed in legislation?

EDWARDS: Well, let`s keep in mind that Todd Akin said he misspoke,
but he actually didn`t apologize for what it is that he said. This notion
of illegitimate rape, I think the president is right. Rape is rape. But
the idea of illegitimate rape, forcible rape, were ideas that were
promoted, seconded and worked on by Paul Ryan and by Todd Akin.

And so, no matter how much the GOP tries to move away from these
comments, their actions in the Congress, voting time and time again against
the interest of women, defending of Planned Parenthood, not paying for
cervical exams and mammograms, the notion that somehow, you`re going to
limit a woman to make choices about her body. This is the Republican GOP
agenda. And women are going to reject it 1,000 percent.

SHARPTON: But for the record, I think later this afternoon, he has
apologized for what he said.

But let me go to you, Erin. The congresswoman talked about women
rejecting this. When we look at the polls, Akin had a slight lead over
McCaskill in recent polls. The polling average showed McCaskill with 43
percent of the vote, compared to Akin`s 48 percent. If he stays in the
race, I`m sure that will change.

But when you look at the top of the ticket, which could clearly be
impacted by this, if he stays in and clearly, the top of the ticket would
be impacted with Missouri voters, Romney has trailed the president by 22
points with women voters in a recent poll. This cannot be helpful to the
Republican Party to have a standard bearer for their party, running for
U.S. Senate, getting this kind of national coverage on such a statement.

ERIN MCPIKE, POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: And that is
exactly why you see so many members of the Republican Party saying, "get
out of the race." It`s not just Scott Brown. Republican Senate candidates
all across the country have been calling on Todd Akin to get out of the
race today. The national Republican senatorial committee, also Mitch
McConnell , though Republican leader in the senate have all said that he
should really re-consider his decisions. They are trying to pull money
from the race, saying if he doesn`t get out, they won`t support him. So,
the Republican Party knows this is a very bad thing for them this fall.

SHARPTON: No, they are pulling money, the Republican committee even
Karl Rove is pulling money. But what about their actions? Won`t this now
put a new spotlight on the actual bills that they`ve proposed and actual
legislation they`ve supported? So, even if he gets out of the race, don`t
we have, now, the obligation to examine what is being advocated?

MCPIKE: I think that`s right, and if you look back to earlier this
spring and late winter, about February and March when we were talking about
the, quote, "Republican war on women" that Democrats were trying to push,
that focused certainly helps President Obama increase his margins in a
polls with women`s voters and that dialogue lasted for a good month to six
weeks and the Republican party quickly abandoned some of the talking points
about where that came from on the health care law, because they knew it was
hurting them.

Now, if we`re seeing this come up again in the national debate, it`s
likely that it will further hurt Mitt Romney with women voters and that`s
why they don`t want to be talking about this anymore.

But you`re right, it probably will shed some new light on the
Republican Party`s stance with women`s health, as President Obama was
trying to talk about today in the press conference that he had with the
White House press corps.

SHARPTON: Well, Congresswoman Edwards, the talking points may change,
but the record speaks for itself. The personhood act that could ban birth
control, IVF treatments and all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest,
has 64 GOP co-sponsors, including Todd Akin and Paul Ryan. That`s a fact.
The bill to ban abortions in D.C., after 20 weeks, with no exceptions for
rape, incest or the health of the mother, has 222 GOP cosponsors, including
Todd Akin and Paul Ryan. We can have different opinions, we can`t have
different facts. These are the facts, congresswoman.

EDWARDS: That`s right. These are the facts. And add to that the
fact that Republicans have stood in the way of passing the violence against
women act, which provides federal funding for rape crisis centers and to
help out victims.

And, so, layer upon layer of ideas that reject women and I think women
during this election are going to speak loudly and clearly and I wouldn`t
be surprised at all if that gap went from 22 percent to way more than that,
because women have finally, will get the picture that this Republican
Party, it is not outside the Republican party. This is deeply imbedded in
the GOP, that they don`t support women`s access to health care. Women`s
access to resources that help them. It`s very clear and women have gotten
the message. Thank you, very much, but we`ll go another direction.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Erin McPike, thank you both
for your time tonight.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

MCPIKE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, more evidence Paul Ryan loves stimulus money.
Does Mr. Romney have a Paul Ryan problem?

Plus, big developments tonight on the assault on voting rights in Ohio
and a Republican who is telling the truth about their plan. We`ll be right
back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Folks, have you checked us out on Facebook? The POLITICS
NATION conversation is going all day long. Today, our Facebook family was
buzzing about the connections between Todd Akin and Paul Ryan.

Norwood reminds us that "Birds of a feather flock together."

We also had some fun on Facebook, too. Showing off this picture of
the first lady, hosting the first ever kids state dinner. Joan says, "What
a great thrill for these kids."

We want to hear what you think, too. Head over to Facebook and search
POLITICS NATION and like us to join the conversation that keeps going long
after the show ends.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION, with the question -- does
the Romney campaign have a Paul Ryan problem? Ryan and Governor Romney
appeared side-by-side today in New Hampshire, in front of over 3,000
supporters. No question, Ryan has energized the base. But we`re also
seeing concerns.

Today, we learned Paul Ryan cosponsored a bill to redefine rape.
Redefine rape bill with Todd Akin. And does Ryan have a problem telling
the truth? He railed on President Obama`s stimulus while asking for
stimulus money in 2009 himself. And now, the upward Chris Hayes team dug-
up this clip from 2002.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we`re trying to
accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to
create jobs and help the unemployed. I urge members to drop the
demagoguery and to pass this bill to help us work together to get the
American people back to work and help those people who have lost their
jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And we all know the headache Medicare is causing. So, Mr.
Romney wanted to fire up his base. But what about everyone else? Are we
seeing some buyer`s remorse here? Does the Romney campaign have a Paul
Ryan problem?

Well, joining me now is former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, now
an NBC News political analyst. And Michael Steele, MSNBC analyst and
former chairman of the RNC. Thank you both for being here tonight.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Good to see you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, let me start with you. Does Romney have
a Paul Ryan problem?

ED RENDELL, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he does with
independent voters. Certainly Paul Ryan`s helped with the base, no
question. But that base, Al, was coming out to vote against President
Obama no matter who he picked for vice president. And he`s got a problem
because of Medicare. He`s got a problem because of this latest rape thing
and he certainly has a problem, because Paul Ryan is looking not like the
honest, hard working guy, you know, that young congressman from Wisconsin.

He`s looking like someone who is really a little shifty. First, he
says he never asked for stimulus money out of President Obama`s stimulus.
If he had read my book, I had the ten worst wussy things politicians can do
and number one is take credit for something or ask for money from something
that you voted against, and he`s my first example. He wrote a letter to
both secretary of energy and secretary of labor asking for money out of the
Obama stimulus after he said he didn`t.

And then secondly, this new revelation, he was a strong supporter of
President Bush`s stimulus, for all the right reasons. Because stimulus
does help short-term economic growth and job creation. But now, when it`s
President Obama who wants to do it, he`s dead set against it. So, he`s
coming across as a hypocrite and a little bit of a fraud. And in politics,
that`s really bad with everyone except your base.

SHARPTON: Now, Michael, you and I debate all the time.

STEELE: Right.

SHARPTON: But for Ed Rendell, the voice of reason, to call someone
shifty and a fraud, I mean, don`t you think you should have given Paul Ryan
his book?

STEELE: Yes. Probably. Chapter one, page one. You know, I --
there`s some legitimacy to what the good governor says there. I think,
from the standpoint that, and it goes back to something I said, Reverend,
when we talked about it on your show when Ryan was announced. If you know
you have a congressman who has 14 years worth of votes, who has 14 years
both of C-span appearances, 14 years worth of letters and documentation
that speaks to what his actions are, versus his words, and, so, you hope
that the campaign has vetted this stuff through and is prepared to deal
with it as it is raised by the Obama team. We`ll see.

But I think that the more important question, to your -- to the topic
that we`re talking about, I don`t think Paul Ryan in and of himself
presents a problem for the GOP. I think that Paul Ryan, as Robert
Samuelson said in his Op-ed today in "The Washington Post" on Medicare, has
the tools and the capacity to begin a dialogue a discussion, whether you
agree or disagree on where his position, that will engage the voters and
approach those independent voters that the governor talked about in a way
that gets them to think about their options.

SHARPTON: But isn`t it true, Governor, that when you go to the
voters, whether you have the ability to start a dialogue or not, if you
appear to be disingenuous, say you`re against stimulus, but you were for
stimulus and then when stimulus passed when you were against it, you asked
for money.

If you say you don`t agree with Akin`s statement, but we find you
actually cosponsored legislation with Akin, that basically said the same
thing he was caught saying in an interview, after awhile, do you get to
that conversation because people see you as disingenuous and see you as one
that becomes a political chameleon?

RENDELL: I think there`s a potential for that. I agree with Michael,
it hasn`t reached that stage yet. But there`s a potential for it. Look at
the most important similar issue in Medicare. Governor Romney has attacked
President Obama for stealing $718 billion from Medicare and Paul Ryan, when
he was announced, he was leading that attack, as well. But then it came
out that in the Ryan budget, he wanted to keep that $718 billion of money
that was taken from Medicare, to balance the budget.

And all of a sudden, the Romney and Ryan camps were clashing over that
and finally Ryan had to give in, and say, no, my budget was wrong, we`re
going to give that back to the American people. So, yes, there are all
sorts of inconsistencies, all sorts of incongruities, and all sorts of
disingenuousness. Now, again, it hasn`t reached that point yet. And I
think, Rev, that Representative Ryan is going to give a very good speech at
the convention, because that`s what he does. He`s a very effective
speaker, he connects pretty well. And so far, it doesn`t look like he has
much adherence to the truth, so, that will allow him to give a very
effective speech during the --

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: And Michael, he sure has a problem with, when you break
down economics, I mean, when you talk about the $716 billion and then you
find out where the President was taking it for and what he was taking it
for, unless you have a white board would you to explain this, that`s going
to be hard to explain.

STEELE: No, I don`t have a white board, but I think the question is,
what do they want to do with the $716 billion, and I think the fact is that
the Ryan team and certainly Mitt Romney, has been arguing that that 716,
they wanted to put into health care, into Obamacare as opposed to putting
it back into the program itself and keeping the program, to the governor`s
point, that`s why there was that moment there between the Ryan and Romney
camps where the Romney team said, no, no, we want that money, that`s going
to be able to go to a different pot as opposed to taking it out of the
system altogether.

So, those are the types of differences Reverend that I think this
debate should be elevated to, so that we can follow the money, so that we
can see exactly what a President Romney would do versus what a President
Obama has done and will do. So, I think that these are legitimate points,
to the Governor`s statement, yes, it hasn`t reached that threshold yet, but
at the rate we`re going, a week out, it could be very close.

And I think Ryan is going to have to come into that convention and
really do a smack down on the facts and lay out on behalf of the ticket the
economics and the finances and reconcile some of that. Not just with the
base, but with those independent voters who are going to be watching that
night.

SHARPTON: Oh, well, I think he`s been smacking down facts a lot, it`s
the truth he hasn`t done too well with. But Governor Ed Rendell and
Michael Steele, thank you for your time tonight.

RENDELL: I love giving you the setup, Reverend.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: We work together. And things are beautiful when we work
together.

Coming up, Ohio doubles down on efforts to block the vote.
Republicans even attempt to suspend two Democrats who are fighting for
fairness.

Plus, President Obama`s cooking tips for young chefs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I can make a good omelet, and
toast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Your summer break is next. This is POLITICS NATION on
MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back, with a pause from the political battles of the
day. A time to rest, relax and recharge. That`s right. It`s time for the
POLITICS NATION summer break. And we start at the White House, where first
lady Michelle Obama hosted a special state dinner this afternoon, just for
kids. The President and first lady welcomed 54 culinary youngsters for
lunch, in the east room. And someone dropped by for a special request.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I only have one request for you. And that is, try not to drop
any scraps on the floor, because Bo -- Bo is on a diet right now. And he
will eat anything that he sees.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And good news! Those party crashers never made it today.

To end the night, we head all the way out to western Russia. And a
town celebrating 70 years with blueberry pie, a colossal one. A POLITICS
NATION favorite. It`s nearly 300 feet long. Took 500 eggs to make it and
weighs a whopping 660 pounds. Let`s listen to the head chef for more.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

Wait a second. I forgot, she speaks Russian. Let me translate this
for you. They were the ones eating the pie! Come to think of it, I think
I saw Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell somewhere in that crowd digging in.
They had that blueberry pie all over their faces. And that`s today`s
summer break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back. There`s been a huge ongoing fight in Ohio
about early voting hours. The secretary of state there has now decided to
cut back on those early voting hours. But the early voting time is needed.
Back in 2004, there were long lines to vote. And this kept nearly 130,000
Ohioan from casting a ballot.

In response, the state expanded the days and hours for early voting.
The result? The election of 2008 went much better. That`s a good thing,
right? Government being responsive to allow people to vote? I guess not.
Since Ohio is now cutting back on those hours. But why are they fixing a
problem that ain`t broke? Well, ever so often, Republicans accidentally
tell the truth about these new voting laws.

Over the weekend, Doug Preisse, a republican election officials said,
quote, "We shouldn`t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban --
read African-American -- voter turnout machine. Let`s be fair and
reasonable," end of quote.

You just can`t make this stuff up. So, this election official, who is
also a close adviser to Ohio Governor John Kasich, admits these voting laws
are really meant to keep black voters from going to the polls. We know
what this is about. He just told all of us. And we`re not going to back
down.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, democrat from Ohio, who
has been fighting back against voter suppression. Congresswoman, thanks
you for being here tonight.

REP. MARCIA FUDGE (D), OHIO: My pleasure indeed, Reverend Al. It`s
always good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Now, what do you make of this republican official`s
blatant comment about black voter turnout?

FUDGE: Reverend Al, this is just scandalous what is going on in
Ohio. I mean, we have a secretary of state who was allowed the power of
his position to overshadow any sense of decency. To actually over shadow
his responsibility to conduct fair and open elections. It is just
scandalous.

SHARPTON: Now, and I -- I want to make it clear, this is not just
partisan. This is about all voters having a right to vote. I was in Ohio
last week, as you know. We are talking about anybody should have the right
to the fair amount of time, same amount of time to vote. African-Americans
make up 21 percent of the population in Ohio. Thirty one percent of early
voters were African-American. And 82 percent of all early voters, they
voted nights and weekends, in the county that this particular official
said, the county, this official that I quoted about African-Americans, was
saying this, 82 percent of the voters that voted early voted on the hours
that they`re now trying to ban.

FUDGE: And the other thing that`s so really ridiculous, Reverend Al,
is that if we go the way we are today, 197,000 Ohioans will be refused the
right to vote.

SHARPTON: How many?

FUDGE: One hundred ninety seven thousand voted just on weekends at
early voting in 2008. And in addition to which, by having the early vote,
we saved millions of dollars across the state of Ohio. When you look at
the fact that, by having all of those people vote early and on Saturdays,
we didn`t need as many poll workers, we didn`t need as many machines.

We saved millions of dollars just in this county, where I live,
Cuyahoga County, alone. And people felt that they had the ability to vote
in a way that was comfortable for them. Not something that was dictated by
the secretary of state.

SHARPTON: Well, but we`re advocating open voting and making democracy
work all over the world, how do we come to Ohio, Pennsylvania and other
states and now start cutting back on days that were already given to us to
vote and hours that were already given? I mean, how do we even think we
can justify this?

FUDGE: It is the height of hypocrisy. There is no justification for
it. There is none.

SHARPTON: Now, the -- at a hearing held this morning for democratic
election officials in Montgomery County, suspended by the secretary of
state hosted for going against early voting directive, quote, "Dennis
Lieberman and Tom Ritchie pushed for extra voting hours on the weekends."
Tell us why they`re doing that.

FUDGE: Well, they`re doing it, simply because they want to make what
they believe a uniform voting system. What they don`t understand is that
uniformity does not equate to equality and fairness.

SHARPTON: Right.

FUDGE: So, their position is, let`s just make everybody the same.
But if you take my county in Cuyahoga, we have over a million residents.
If you go to the county some of the counties where they are republican
counties, they may have 100,000 people. How can you say that they should
be the same?

SHARPTON: So, you`re talking about, make it relative. I got you.
Well, I`ve run out of time, but thank you. We`ll have you back and we`ll
certainly be watching this. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, thank you for your
time tonight.

FUDGE: Thank you so much, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, I want to close with a look inside a party
going in the wrong direction. We spent a lot of time tonight on
Congressman Todd Akin`s offensive comments on rape. But what`s being
widely overlooked is how Akin responded in that same interview, when asked
about the voting rights act and whether it was out of date.

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: Elections have historically always
been a state thing. And I didn`t realize how important or how good that
was until we had that very close race, the second race with George Bush,
and you had something that goes wrong in Florida and I`m thinking, boy, it
sure is good that the states manage this and not the federal government.
Otherwise, you`d have to try and re-hold the whole election process. So, I
do think that the state`s having a say in terms of how they do their voting
in their own state, that was a good principle laid down many, many, many
years ago.

SHARPTON: So, he thinks it`s a good principle for states to control
voting rights. Without the voting rights act, voters aren`t protected from
discrimination at the polls. And there`s a bigger picture here and a
bigger point.

Congressman Akin is saying the things we`ve been talking about for
months. He`s saying what the party is doing. The fact is, we can dismiss
a far right republican slip of the tongue, but we can`t dismiss the extreme
policies of this party. And we have to remember the real things that we`re
fighting for. Voting rights, civil rights, women`s rights, Medicare,
Medicaid, people called them entitlements.

The people that seem to feel entitled are those that enjoy the most.
Those that think they should get the tax cuts and take trillions out, while
people that have invested and fought and stood for this country only want
fairness.

That`s what we`re fighting for. That`s what we must win.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
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